The Portland Police Bureau wants community members to be aware of a phone scam that is currently active in the Portland Metro area.
Officers have received reports from community members who stated that callers contact them claiming to be members of a police department or sheriff's department. The law enforcement impersonator often times:
- refers to the community member by name,
- tells the community member the call is being recorded, and
- tells the community member they missed a court appearance or jury duty.
The caller states they need to send money or a warrant will be issued for their arrest or they may turn themselves in to jail.
Sometimes scams such as these will include spoofing a legitimate police agency phone number and using a real name of a law enforcement officer in an attempt to gain the trust of the victim. No government agency of any kind takes gift cards as payment.
The Portland Police Bureau reminds you to be aware that:
- The Portland Police Bureau does not call individuals and demand or request money from community members under any circumstances.
- The Portland Police Bureau or any other legitimate law enforcement agency does not call community members seeking payment for outstanding traffic citations or warrants. This includes claims of unpaid federal or state taxes.
- Individuals claiming to collect debts may try to instill fear in potential victims to persuade them to forward money.
MoneyPak/Green Dot and Vanilla Reload have online tools to allow purchasers to request a refund if the scammer has not yet cashed the card.
If you are a resident of Portland and fall victim to these scammers with financial loss, you are encouraged to file a report by calling the Portland Police Bureau's Non-Emergency line at (503) 823-3333.
Tips to help avoid becoming a victim to this scam include:
- Never give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or email.
- Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason.
- Stay private. Regularly update privacy settings for social media sites. Scammers often make their stories more believable by trolling for personal information on Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.
- Utility companies and government agencies will never contact you for payment by GreenDot, MoneyPak or Vanilla Reload.
- Remember that anyone who has the number on a prepaid card has access to the funds on your card.
- Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers to a stranger.
The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) advises that courts may use an independent collection service to collect unpaid monetary judgments and fines. If someone believes they are being scammed regarding an alleged unpaid traffic citation or other court-imposed financial obligation they can:
- Ask the collector (caller) for information specific to the alleged warrant or unpaid traffic citation. The caller should have the court case number, date of ticket and vehicle license number.
- Verify the debt or confirm other details by calling the OJD collections hotline at 1-888-564-2828.
- Use OJD Courts ePay to directly pay money owed to state courts for most traffic citations, civil fees or criminal fines (For more information go to https://www.courts.oregon.gov/services/online/pages/epay.aspx
If you receive a similar call, disconnect without providing any information or taking any instructions from the caller. Contact your local law enforcement agency.
The Oregon Department of Justice has a tremendous amount of information and resources available to protect consumers. Information can be found by visiting http://www.doj.state.or.us/Pages/index.aspx
For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Scam Alert website www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts